The Class of 2017 Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre grad recently took some time out of her busy schedule promoting Hulu and CBC Gem’s music- and dance-infused hit series to answer questions from Toronto Film School students.
Here’s what Alomar had to say about her journey to becoming an actor, her time at TFS, and her experience filming Utopia Falls – which follows a group of teens in the seemingly idyllic colony of New Babyl as they stumble upon a hidden archive of cultural relics amidst the charred ruins of Earth and are forced to question everything they have been taught – ultimately using the power of music to ignite change and expose the truth.
How did you know you wanted to be an actor?
From a really young age, I knew I wanted to be a performer or an entertainer of some sort. I was either going to be a dancer or an actor. I used to put on these shows for my mom and my family…these one-woman shows and I would charge money. I just loved doing it so much that I just knew from when I was a kid that there was nothing else for me – that whatever I was going to do was going to be in the arts.
What was your Toronto Film School experience like?
My experience at Toronto Film School was honestly so much fun. I loved going to school there every day. It just felt really, really good and you were always in such a safe environment, that you could be as vulnerable as you needed to be or as you wanted to be.
What was your biggest takeaway from your time at Toronto Film School?
Honestly, to listen to all of your teachers and everything that they have to teach you, because trust me, it is going to help you – it really, really is. I can think of even breathing exercises I learned at TFS that I still use now going into auditions and right when I’m on set. So, listen to everything your teachers have to say and absorb everything.
Something else I learned from TFS is to work with as many different people there as you can, you know what I mean? That is so, so good because you get to learn how to react off different people and learn how to work with different types of actors.
How did you land your role in Hulu/CBC’s Utopia Falls?
I was in L.A. at the time and I ended up booking Utopia Falls first through a self tape…and I’m so happy I did the audition. I didn’t hear back for, like, a month, but then I had two or three callbacks after that – one of them was a dance callback, and the other two were Skype call acting auditions. I was so nervous and I was freaking out – especially for the dancing – but then I got the call that I got it, and I flipped out. I had been waiting for that call, I feel like, for so long, and I was just really, really happy.
How did you get into the character of Aliyah?
I do a couple of things to get into character. Before we even start filming, I actually create a journal for my character: I customize it to who they are, and I write down things about their family, things they like, and how they feel about the world – because I feel like when you film a show, you can just get the script so last minute, so you don’t always have the time to be able to fully prep and break things down. So, I feel like that always keeps me in character so that I always know who I am at the core. But when I am on set, honestly, I take my deep breaths, I get into Aliyah’s state of mind, I walk around set for a bit as my character, and I try to be the most present as possible. And I always, always, always listen to whoever I’m working with in the scene.
What was it like working on a such a big set?
I’m so glad somebody asked me that. It was insane…Especially in the beginning, it was really nerve-wracking, especially coming into it a little less experienced than some of the older actors that were on there, and even some of the other main cast. But I got used to it pretty quick, and that set became my home. It was a really big change, but it was amazing. Honestly, it really made everything feel so real and so authentic and it really made you feel like you were in this sci-fi world. I’m still very new to this, honestly, and I’m so fortunate and thankful to have had this opportunity.
What are some of your favourite projects that you’ve worked on?
My two favourite things that I’ve worked on are definitely Utopia Falls – that’s definitely my favourite – but another thing that I’m really proud of is a smaller project that I worked on called Baldwin Beauty with director Thembie Banks. That was an incredible set to be on, because it was all women of colour, all writers of colour, and the director was a woman of colour. So, it was just really powerful to be on set and to be around that. I loved it.
What motivates you to continue on in difficult times?
What motivates me to go on in difficult times is honestly myself, because I feel like you need to believe in yourself. When I get down on myself, I check myself, I take a deep breath and remember who I am. For real. You have to believe in yourself, because if you don’t, who will? You have to be your own cheerleader, you have to know that you are that person and that you got this…and also just to know that your dreams and your goals are valid and that we need content from so many different voices, you know?
What is your advice to aspiring actors?
My biggest piece of advice to future actors and students is always believe in yourself, for real, no matter what. You need to always be visualizing who you want to be in your head, and to always work your ass off, because hard work always pays off.